The first half of the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) will consist of two separate multiple-choice assessments, based on what is considered functioning legal knowledge, or the foundation of what a solicitor is expected to know when starting out.
The exams will take a closed-book format and be carried out through computer-based assessments, containing 180 questions each.
How many hours will it take to complete?
In total, the SRA have announced that there will be ten hours’ worth of examinations, with a further fourteen expected for the subsequent SQE2 exams. You’ll generally be expected to complete this initial series of assessments before you begin your two year-long work experience, whether that’s the traditional route of the training contract or other recognised legal work experience.
Bear in mind that if you don’t pass the SQE1 exams on the first time, you’ll have an additional two attempts, which you must pass within six years. If you’re already part of the way through qualifying via the current format, you’ll also be able to complete the LPC within the transitional period which will come into effect from next year.
The SQE is expected to be phased in starting from autumn 2021, with a first series planned for November 2021 - this means that if you take and pass the SQE1 exam at this point, you’ll then have until 2026 to complete the other components of the qualification route.
Time to prepare
The SQE is a stand-alone set of examinations, unlike previous routes of qualifying as a solicitor like the Legal Practice Course or Graduate Diploma in Law. As a result, you should also factor in the time it takes to prepare for the assessment, as you enrol on a course offered by one of the providers, such as the range offered by The University of Law.
This should especially be the case if you’re coming from a non-law academic background, which means that you’d need to cover the foundational legal knowledge that LLB students will have covered over the course of their degree.